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Report Finds Adults With Disabilities Continue to Be Economically Shortchanged Despite ADA's Guarantee

As the U.S. Celebrates the 24th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 26, a First-of-Its-Kind Report Shows People With Disabilities Are Less Financially Stable Than People Without Disabilities

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - July 22, 2014) - A new report released today from National Disability Institute (NDI) shows 24 years after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and guaranteed all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve "economic self-sufficiency," people with disabilities are less financially stable than people without disabilities.

Based on data collected from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation's 2012 National Financial Capability Study released last year, this groundbreaking report highlights for the first time a nationwide snapshot of the financial capability and financial wellness of adults with disabilities.

National Disability Institute's report, Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities - Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation 2012 National Financial Capability Study, analyzed data from 1,363 of the more than 25,000 respondents to the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) self-identifying as "permanently sick, disabled or unable to work." While the report analyzes one segment of people with disabilities, the results provide an important lens on the financial capability of many Americans with disabilities. According to U.S. Census data, nearly one in three people with disabilities in the United States live in poverty, a figure nearly double the national poverty rate.

The report mirrors the format of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation's 2012 National Financial Capability Study and includes insights into how respondents make ends meet, plan ahead, manage financial products as well as their level of financial knowledge and decision making. In nearly every category, the financial capability of people with disabilities lagged behind the financial capability of people without disabilities. Report highlights include:

  • 78 percent of people with disabilities found it difficult to make ends meet, as compared with 56 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 70 percent of people with disabilities responded they could not come up with $2,000 in an emergency, as compared with 37 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 44 percent of people with disabilities had unpaid medical bills, as compared to 25 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 81 percent of people with disabilities did not have an emergency fund to cover three months of expenses, as compared to 54 percent of people without disabilities;
  • Only 18 percent of people with disabilities had determined their retirement savings needs, as compared with 41 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 84 percent of people with disabilities had not planned for their children's college education, as compared to 62 percent of respondents without disabilities;
  • Only 30 percent of respondents with disabilities paid their credit card in full each month, as compared with 50 percent of respondents without disabilities;
  • 41 percent of people with disabilities used methods of non-bank borrowing, such as a pawn shop or payday loan, as compared with 29 percent of people without disabilities; and
  • 50 percent reported they were "not at all satisfied" with their current financial condition, as compared with 30 percent of people without disabilities.

"While the participants in the study represent only a segment of people with disabilities, their responses tell an all too common story for many people in the disability community," said Michael Morris, executive director of National Disability Institute and a co-author. "More than 24 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, these results show our nation is falling short of meeting the promise of economic self-sufficiency the ADA guarantees. The status quo is unacceptable. Working together, we must do better."

NDI, the first national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to building a better economic future for people with disabilities, also outlined in the report the organization's recommendations on how to move forward and foster collaboration to improve the financial capability of people with disabilities. Recommendations included designing and testing innovative intervention strategies, establishing a cross-system national task force to build a collaboration strategy, and improving available information about people with disabilities and their financial capability.

National Disability Institute released the report today at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Morris and co-author Katherine McDonald, a professor and researcher at Syracuse University, presented the report's results. FINRA Investor Education Foundation President Gerri Walsh provided an overview and historical perspective of her organization's 2012 National Financial Capability Study and the future of the initiative. A panel of federal agency representatives discussed various initiatives they are undertaking to advance the financial capability of people with disabilities. Panelists included Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy; Debra Holland, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service Wage and Investment (W&I) Division; Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director, Consumer Education & Engagement, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Bob Williams, Senior Advisor, Social Security Administration.

A digital copy of the report is available for download in the document library under the Resources section of NDI's website and via this link http://bit.ly/NDI_Report_2014. Video of the National Press Club event will be available on National Disability Institute's YouTube channel, YouTube.com/RealEconomicImpact.

About National Disability Institute

National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to building a better economic future for people with disabilities. The first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities, National Disability Institute effects change through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance and innovative initiatives. National Disability Institute and its Real Economic Impact (REI) Network have helped nearly 2 million people with disabilities receive more than $1.8 billion in tax refunds and credits. To learn more, visit www.realeconomicimpact.org Engage with National Disability Institute on Facebook: RealEconImpact or follow NDI on Twitter: @RealEconImpact.

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